As part of the work to integrate community pharmacy into local NHS urgent care pathways, as an element of the Pharmacy Integration Fund programme, a new pathway defined as the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) has been tested in the North East since December 2017.
This model has been based on a referral from NHS 111, following an assessment by a call advisor, leads to the patient being transferred for a consultation with a community pharmacist instead of being booked for an urgent GP appointment or signposted to their own GP, depending on the time of day.
The pharmacist will carry out a consultation with the patient in the privacy of the consulting room and make an appropriate clinical record using recognised NICE guidelines to assess symptoms of minor illness and access to a range of material to support advice about health and well-being.
This first pilot has shown good progress with patients consistently referred and reporting high satisfaction rates. Episodes of care are completed safely and appropriately instead of patients having to wait for a GP appointment and with the understanding that patients will be escalated to an appropriate service if necessary.
Another three areas are mobilising to start in early autumn 2018 with the same approach whereby NHS 111 makes a digital referral to community pharmacists in:
- Devon – area covered by Devon Doctors
- East Midlands – area covered by DHU Health Care
- London – area covered by London Ambulance Service and London Central and West.
All pilots are currently set to run until 31st March 2019 with the evaluation timed to inform any future commissioning for 2019/20.
Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) training animation
A training animation has been developed for NHS 111 call advisors and pharmacy teams to describe the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) and to describe the patient journey through the service.